Mumbai, May 22: A British woman, left shaken after a man publicly masturbated while staring at her at a Mumbai bus stop during her trip to India, has been inundated with apologies and support from Indians.
Lucy Hemmings, 27, said Indian men and women had sent her countless messages after reading her blog post about the incident to say sorry, The Independent newspaper reported in London on Wednesday.
"On behalf of my fellow countrymen I would like to apologise for what happened," one man wrote.
"It is truly disheartening to know that you have had such an experience while you were in my country... I pray that you will have a safer environment from now on," he added.
Another Indian well-wisher wrote that they felt "ashamed and sorry", while another said: "A bunch of people, out of a billion population, make the whole of India ashamed. "So I just thought to say sorry (on behalf of everyone in India). I know you have moved on... but I still believe a sorry could make a difference."
Hemmings, who was travelling in India for three months and has since returned to the UK, wrote about the experience on her Lucy's Miles Away travel blog. She was sitting at a bus stop in Mumbai when she noticed a man move closer to her.
"From the corner of my eye, to my horror, I realised that he had pulled out his penis and was masturbating, staring intently at me," she wrote.
"I felt sick."
Hemmings wrote that although she respected Indian culture by covering herself completely in loose clothes and had followed safety advice about travel and conduct with strangers, it was not the first time something similar had happened.
She told The Independent: "I found it really frustrating because I'm someone who really loves interacting with people and I really struggled because suddenly I was afraid to look at people.
"I kept on thinking: 'Is it going to happen every time?' Of course, it doesn't but for about three days I really found it difficult."
The former Bournemouth University student said she had no idea of the impact her blog would have and hopes it will encourage other women to talk about their experiences of sexual harassment around the world.
"It could easily have provoked a really negative reaction but it's been absolutely wonderful and so humbling that people are writing to me to say they are sorry," she said.